I am not writing this post to celebrate the departure of Mike D’Antoni. The man had many faults, but I have always maintained that his biggest fault was being chosen over Phil Jackson.
Honestly, D’Antoni resigning was the best possible outcome for all parties involved. The Lakers did not want to have him next year, and they did not want to have to fire another coach. Additionally, both Kobe and Pau have maintained their lack of desire to play for him. Lastly, D’Antoni has felt the wrath of LA fans for the last 2 years. He has even been booed at games. Fans did not want him, and more importantly Kobe did not want him.
He had been facing rumors for months about his ultimate demise, so he finally took action. He decided to ask for the Lakers to pick up his option for the 2015-2016 season. I was initially surprised to hear that he made this move. The Lakers just faced their worst record since moving to LA, and D’Antoni wants the Lakers to guarantee him for an additional year? What is his bargaining tool?
I have already mentioned all the negatives of having D’Antoni, and I could not think of any possible reason why the Lakers would guarantee him for an additional year. The stars appeared to be lined up for the Lakers to get rid of him next year, and use the empty coaching position as a negotiating tool with free agents.
D’Antoni said that he did not want to be a lame duck coach. He claimed it was too distracting. This argument is silly. Tons of coaches and players are in this position and they work through it. Instead, I think D’Antoni was looking for an excuse to resign. He must have been miserable in LA, and I think he went into negotiations knowing that he would be turned down, so that he could use that as his excuse to walk away. I will reiterate, this was the best possible outcome. Now he can pursue the Golden State Warriors, since that position just became open.
The Lakers can now focus on the future. The rumor mill has been swirling with possible candidates (this is how we knock the Clippers off the front page). Time for me to break down the possible candidates for the Lakers next head coach:
I am a huge fan of this possibility. He is young, a former Laker, has won “Coach of the Year,” and can help lure Kyrie Irving. Byron has a good mix of experience and youth that I think would be very beneficial to this rebuilding process. Additionally, he is a former Laker and understands the pressure that comes with this position. He should pass the Kobe Bryant test, and would be great in recruiting the former “Rookie of the Year” since he coached him in Cleveland. I think there is a very good chance that he will be the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
He is the dark horse in the race to claim Phil Jackson’s throne. He is a very interesting choice. We know that he and Kobe were teammates and remain close friends. It is no secret that Derek Fisher is one of the only people that Kobe allows to be completely honest with him. They were co-captains for the Lakers, and Derek took on the leadership role. Kobe is only good at inspiring fear, so Derek would step up and encourage his teammates in times of adversity. They often crediting him with inspiring them with his speeches, and he has a bit of a reputation for relishing in crunch time. Since Derek played in LA for years, he is very aware of the pressure that comes with this position, and is beloved by Lakers fans. These qualities are admirable in a coach.
Despite all of Derek’s great qualities, there are some risks in making him the head coach. Currently, Derek is in his final playoffs with OKC. This means that Derek has zero coaching experience. The Nets made a similar move last year by making Jason Kidd their head coach. That move has worked out quite nicely since he just won his first game 7 and is currently taking on the Miami Heat in round two. While it did work out for the Nets, hiring a coach without any coaching experience is a risk. The Lakers are probably unwilling to take such a risk since their last two coaches did not work out.
Secondly, Derek’s relationship with Kobe might actually be a problem. However, Kobe could end up turning on Derek, or Derek could decide to let Kobe be Kobe in order to avoid hurting their relationship. As players and co-captains they were on equal footing, but if Fisher became the coach then he would have the ability to pull Kobe out of games and tell him to pass the damn ball. When Derek Fisher delivered some harsh truths to Kobe, Kobe could decide whether or not to listen, but as his coach Kobe would be forced to “obey.” I say “obey” because Kobe has always on some level ignored or overruled his coaches over the years. Needless to say, the Kobe/Derek dynamic could prove to be extremely beneficial or terribly detrimental.
Van Gundy Brothers
I am combining the Jeff and Stan because I think the likelihood of the Lakers signing either brother is slim. They are both admirable coaches and are well respected, but I do not see them fitting in with the Lakers or the LA fans. I think their personality will be a turn off for the fans, and I think Kobe will be too much for either of them to handle. Stan could not handle Dwight, does he really want to take a crack at the Black Mamba? Additionally, the Lakers front office is looking to do two things with this coaching vacancy: make a splash, and attract free agents.
Signing either Van Gundy is not a sexy choice (on every single level), and they do not have the same lure to bring in free agents as some of the other choices. All in all, I do not think either one will end up as the next coach.
This name has gotten the most attention during the media circus. It is unfortunate that his name got leaked. Before we started considering him as the next coach, the Bulls were on their way to getting knocked out of the first round. Rumors were starting to swirl that the Bulls were going to fire him. Now the Bulls have taken a firm stance, and despite giving the Lakers permission to talk to Tom, they have reminded us that he is under contract. Unfortunately, now if we want to steal him from the Bulls, we will have to give up something massive. Rumor has it that the Bulls either want our first round pick or for us to take Boozer and his massive contract.
Let me clear, I have said in the past that I am strongly against us trading our draft pick for Kevin Love. If Kevin Love is not worth it, neither is Tom. However, I would be open to taking on Boozer. He does have a big contract, but it expires in 2015. We are going to have a mediocre year anyway, so we might as well spend some money on him and then let him walk away while we go after the big free agents.
I took a bit of a detour, so let me get back to discussing Tom as the Lakers future coach. He is Kobe’s first choice and I have a lot of respect for him. While D’Antoni was all about offense, Tom is all about defense. Remember that crushing Celtic defense that destroyed us in the 2008 finals? Tom was the architect.
I think he could be a great coach for the Lakers, if we do not have to give up too much to bring him here.
I have already discussed my opinion of George Karl, so I will keep this short. While I think he has a lot of great qualities, I do not think he will be the next coach. I doubt he wants to deal with LA or the rebuilding process.
I have always admitted that my NCAA knowledge is limited. However, I have done a little research on Ollie and I think he has a lot of potential. This LA native has achieved a lot, and has done so very quickly. He won the NCAA tournament only 2 years after being named UCONN’s head coach. He played 13 season in the NBA and retired only 4 years ago. He might be itching to come back. Kevin Durant has spoken highly of him and explained that Ollie was his mentor in Oklahoma. Ollie would be the best person to lure Durant away from OKC in 2016 if we still have the cap space for him.
Ollie just won a national championship, so it is hard to say how he feels about staying. He may want to stay to defend the title. Maybe he now has enough credibility so he wants to take the next step to the NBA? I think we are in a good position to steal him from Connecticut.
All these coaches pose a risk to the Lakers, and Ollie is no exception. Ollie has been very successful in coaching college students, but the NCAA coaching style does not always translate well to NBA coaching. I think Ollie will be a very successful NBA coach since he spent so much time as a player and has gained amazing experience at the college level. However, we won’t know unless he takes the job.
His name started swirling the day of his championship game. I failed to talk about it because I knew it was a bogus rumor. I am convinced that someone started that rumor just to mess with Kentucky players’ heads. He has already come out twice and said he is not interested in the job. I know some people think he is playing hard ball for future negotiations, but I truly believe he is not interested. Again, my knowledge of him is limited, but based on all the reporting, it sounds like the Lakers situation is not a good fit for him.
Like Karl, I already gave my Sloan assessment. I have a great deal of respect for Sloan, but I think his personality will not mesh well with the Lakers or the city.
He is not pictured because he is a new coach to hit the rumor mill. Apparently we have targeted him before, but to no avail. He seems pretty dead set on staying in the NCAA, so I am not expecting to see him in next season.
I know I have already gone through all the men in the photograph, but while writing this post Mark Jackson was fired from Golden State (not surprising but still horribly disappointing). The Lakers should definitely take a look at him. He is a great coach who should not have been fired. He improved Golden State each year that he coached, and the Lakers are in some dire need of improvement. His style might be a bit fast paced, but he is still worth considering. The former Clipper knows all about the LA lifestyle and I think he could be a great addition.
I know this has been a long post, and I appreciate you all for staying with me. A lot will change in the coming months. Since the Lakers are not expecting to sign a coach before the draft, you can be sure this list will be changing. I know that Jim Buss has made bad coaching decisions in the past, but I will remain hopeful, since I am thus far thoroughly impressed with the current list. I told my fans, things will get better, and now we are on our way.